Adam Golaski and I get together every other month or so and share all the big highs and big lows and all the little stuff of our lives. It’s been a privilege to be part of his over the last — what? decade? One of the biggest of highs in this ongoing time has been reading each new installment of Green — Adam’s faithful and idiosyncratic translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight — as it came to life online. Since late 2008 I’ve had the pleasure of publishing “Green”-in-progress on Open Letters, and this month is especially exciting as for the first time the entire first fitt of the poem is available online.
In this portion of the poem, Sir Gawain accepts the Green Knight’s challenge (that he strike the knight on the neck with an ax, and that, should the knight survive, the knight, in one year’s time, may strike Gawain in return). The poem, at this point is cinematic: we pan back as the Green Knight dismounts his Green Horse, we shuttle forward as the giant “let his naked neck bear readiness,” and
Gawain gripped th’green knight’s axe’nd raised it high—
left foot firm t’th’ground—
swift on th’naked neck, Gawain let it down